The Ilion village board heard concerns about a policy charging a $50 fee for late payment of water bills at a meeting last Wednesday, but made no changes in the policy.
Karen Naracci attended the meeting to complain she had been charged an extra $50 for a late payment.
“It’s totally unfair,” she said. “I pay on time 99 percent of the time. I recently missed a bill and was slapped with a water shut-off notice.”
She said she has always paid on time in the past
“If the village had contacted me, I would have paid it immediately,” she said. She suggested a note be sent or a courtesy phone call made to customers who normally pay on time.
Mayor John Stephens said he appreciated Naracci’s coming to the meeting to express her concerns, but said the village board discussed the problem over the past few years and made the decision to add a substantial late fee because so many customers were not paying their bills on time.
“This is where we ended up in order to allow the village utility cost to remain as low-cost and efficient as it is,” he said.
“This is nothing that was decided arbitrarily,” said Municipal Utilities Board Chairman Larry Gookins, adding the board had looked for a solution to the problem for more than two years. “We tried everything we could think of.”
He said the village has eliminated some positions over the past few years and there are not enough employees to send out additional notifications.
Village Treasurer Connie Gagliardi said the evidence could be seen in the books. She said the village had tried instituting payment plans, but people tried to stretch those payments out even further.
“The water department was not getting enough revenue in to pay its bills,” she said.
Gagliardi added the village has to be consistent in charging the late fee. If it were waived for one person, it wouldn’t be fair to those who have to pay it.
Stephens said that out of 3,000 plus customers, about 25 had complained about the policy.
“Everyone is upset about the amount,” said Trustee Barbara Collea.
“I don’t want to pay even $1 more,” said Naracci. “It’s outrageous.”
In other business, the board:
• Decided to list the Woods Tire property on the market for $75,000.
• Scheduled Halloween trick or treat hours for 6 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 31.
• Scheduled November and December board meetings for Nov. 20 and Dec. 18.